By RS Jassal, Comdt (Retd)
1. A brain storming seminar as above was organized by 17 AR (10 Sect AR) under theme `Consolidation of Peace in Ukhrul` to commemorate 100th birth anniversary of Late Maj Bob Khathing with an aim to provide a common platform for NGOs, prominent citizens of Ukhrul Dist, intelligentsia, and common people to share their views on peace. The state Govt reps were involved along with a large number of youth and students of the area. The keynote address for the seminar was delivered by Brig Narender Kumar, SM, Cdr HQ 10 Sector AR. The seminar was suitably divided into two sessions with prominent speakers experts on their sub subjects deliberating in detail.
2. Brig Narender Kumar, highlighted some of important issues which have had an overarching bearing on peace in Ukhrul (Manipur), like existence of grey territories, proximity of porous IB with Myanmar and Kachin to provide arms and drugs sustaining insurgency in Manipur in particular and NE in general. Indo- Myanmar border areas are a suitable safe haven for regrouping and training. He further said insurgency cannot be sustained if the supply of arms and ammo is interrupted. Manipur is in close proximity to the illegal arms markets of South East Asia. Chinese and East European weapon smugglers are in a position to deliver the weapons in sea and even close to Indo-Myanmar borders at a cost. This is a major factor of sustaining insurgency in NE for the last 50 yrs. NE insurgent gps have now become arms conduits to even the Maoists. The youth, unfortunately, has got lured into the easy money generated by arms trafficking.
He added that there is no dearth of disgruntled youth i.e Cannon fodders who follow the diktat of their group leaders as essential to keep such move alive. Unemployed youth and criminal strata of society are easiest to get lured in this move for monitory benefits and organisational higher positions apart from ideological indoctrination. Despite dramatic gains in improving the security situation, however, there are residual risks that can destabilise the gains. Despite the SoO and CF agreement with various UG gps, more than 50 violent incidents were caused by various UG groups in 2010 and 2011 did not lag behind. Violence against `outsiders`™ in Manipur represents another dimension of persisting trouble in Manipur. Beneath the falling graph of violence in Ukhrul Dist, however, huge campaigns of extortion exist. The UG gps target Govt offices and officials, local self-Govt and educational institutions, health centres, commercial establishments and the wider civilian population alike. In an environment of extortion and levying taxes by emotional blackmail, development and ultimately the peace is sacrificed.
Carrying his address further he maintained whereas general public are loyal both to the Govt through ballot and development and others ideologically to the UGs. So, conditions have to be stable to push the development cart ahead. The fact of the matter is that both development and peace are complementary to each other. There cannot be development without peace and vice versa. This is the biggest challenge the Govt is facing under the growing demand for development. Late Bob Khathing the legendary figure of this era has shown how development can be achieved despite hindrances caused by the UGs during his time.
3. Under the first session chaired by Comdt (Retd) RS Jassal, Shri Yambem Laba, the eminent journalist and ex- Mmeber Manipur HR commission while speaking on Inherent Contradictions and Challenges to Peace spoke about the two most prominent Naga personalities of 1950s i.e Maj Bob Khathing and Mr Phizo who took divergent and contradictory routes on nation building. While Late Maj Bob Khathing played a significant role in nation building as a soldier, politician and administrator and Mr Phizo as leader for secessionist movement in NE. He also talked about the fractured multi ethnic and multi lingual society of NE India wherein each major ethnic gp gradually started supporting one UG gp or the other with contradictory demands.
He further detailed inherent contradictions. like failure of Shillong Accord to bring peace in the region. The accord led to mushroming of more No. of Naga insurgent factions than bringing them to mainstream. Consequently, the Meitis and Kukis too took up arms. It did not end here a Nexus between Politicians and UGs also emerged. With occasional overriding powers of bureaucrats and police over State Govt orders on security aspects also showed its effect. He concluded by emphasizing on need to take the peace initiative to a logical conclusion which should be the Government main agenda.
4. Chief Justice (retd) WA Shishak while delivering his discourse on `Developing Local Capacities for Peace` stated that the peace in the region has remained elusive for far too long. He stated that people of the region should be the instrument for peace which should commence by searching for peace from within oneself. He emphasized on addressing the root cause of the problem by means of dialogue and not by means of violence and gun culture. He also questioned if the two important stake holders of peace i.e the govt and UGs were ready for peace at all? If yes, then what is holding them back from resolution and if no, then what is being done about it? He reiterated the importance of masses, social orgs and NGOs to come forward to stablise the situation while peace is being negotiated. There is no denial to the fact that all stake holders must on priority work towards a lasting peace through arriving at a just solution acceptable to the majority.
5. Capt (retd) AY Tipnis, Chairman VVD, noted that absence of hostilities and a ceasefire or SoO agreement do not define nor constitute peace. The prevailing environment of uncertainty needs to be further ironed out by enhancing the scope of peace and extending it to enable bring transformation into lives of common man that brings all round well being and security. He observed that hill people of Manipur do have some genuine grievances which need to be addressed by well studied responses, constitutional safe guards and provisions by both, the central and state govts. Knee jerk reactions to emerging trends and situations will only impede consolidation of peace. He proposed a Citizen`™s Action Plan for furtherance of peace and understanding problems of masses by the Govt. Preparation of a Citizens`™ Report on the Social, Economic, Environmental situation and problems and priorities of the people of Ukhrul for information of leaders and administration, preparation of a Citizens is list of Priorities and an Outline Action Plan to add People`™s needs and priorities in the next 5 and 10 yrs against the backdrop of a long term perspective and for the purpose of making the Report and the plan, organise a Ukhrul Dist Network of NGOs`™ and Social Org, incl the Apex Orgs and eminent citizens such as are present here even today. We may regard it as `Ukhrul Alliance/Network for Fraternal Peace and Devep.`
6. Under the second session chaired by Retd Justice W A Shishak, Father Linus Neli, Principal St Savio School Ukhrul spoke on the role of Govt and in furtherance of prevailing peace. Our present state of Manipur is swayed by various forms of `Govt`™s. Alongside the legitimate Govt, all UG outfits have assumed themselves as law enforcing agents in every aspects of human life and activities. With impunity, the outfits can manipulate the flow of info, corrupt the Govt and infiltrate right into the system so as to thwart good governance. So, how to speak of the role of the Govt within the state? Peace, order, and Good Govt are legal expressions conferred by legislative powers to the legitimate governing body of the nation. It is meant to ensure `liberty, equality and fraternity` in France, `Life Liberty and pursuit of happiness` in the United States, `Justice, liberty, equality and fraternity` in India.
7. Shri R V Mingthing, a close associate of late Mr Phizo and later Minister with Govt of Manipur reminded people of unique friendship between Bob and MKPB which brought peace all. He added governance is the ability to deliver essential public services and maintain the status of every legitimate functionary institution. The Govt must meet the most basic needs of its citizens, and maintain stability and security of the state, reduce poverty and illiteracy of its people, enhance investment and strengthen overall governance. The principal areas of democratic governance are: civic engagement in public policy making: citizens empowerment in democratic politics; public service governance. Manipur being a small state with smaller dist the adm can be much better networked and org. There is no mechanism of participatory governance where by citizens can play a more direct role in public decision-making or at least engage more deeply with political issues, other than through their el
ected legislators to Assembly and local bodies or through blockades and bandhs. For political solution Khaplang faction cannot be ignored.
8. Shri Habib IPS Ukhrul said, the Govt cannot be excused for its inability to maint law and order in its jurisdiction. It should explore all possibilities, in partnership with NGOs and private sects to address every burning issue and orient its service energy to the aspiration of the people and towards the ultimate goal of the state. Those in the Govt continue to feel that they are doing a fine job and nothing could be better. The citizen clearly feels otherwise. This mismatch in the perceptions of the people and the Govt is reflected in the credibility gap which exists between the citizen and the Govt. For this youth has to come forward with positive mind and co-operate with the authority to evolve egalitarian society.
9. Comdt (Retd) RS Jassal speaking on Conflict Resolution Management and Way Ahead gave a brief of the various conflicts which have been simmering over the past few decades. Examples of insurgent and conflict in Punjab, Gujrat Godhra Carnage and the ensuing riots, attack in Parliament, Akshardham Temple, Mumbai have led to loss of innocent lives and are examples of conflicts which were mismanaged. Similarly trouble has been brewing in all NE states. The results of such unresolved conflicts have been detrimental to the overall development of state with no clear solution in sight and tensions still persisting between various communities and the Govt. A system of parallel economies is in place which sustains itself through illicit and illegal activities incl, arms smuggling, ganja/drugs trade, extortions, abductions and illicit taxes, which have hampered the state`™s social and economic progress.
He also said a successful and an amicable way of conflict resolution would be based on solution worked out on the principles of removal of insecurity, prevention of conflict, negotiations; He emphasized the conflict Resolution is not the responsibility of govt alone but civ societies as well. Peace building measures have to be continued with honesty and sincerity. For peace fair and dare governance is essential People of Ukhrul and state Govt must erect a statue as his memorial.
10. Maj Gen UK Gurung, YSM, IGAR(S) conveyed his message to be read on concluding the seminar: Old baggage of history has become centre stage of continuing the conflicts. Times have changed but demand of the agencies at conflict remains the same. Constitutional safe guards to uplift tribals living conditions are not given full chance to deliver as is evident societies are in continued conflict of blocking all type of Govts offers as is seen in blockades, bandh, boycotts and interference in self Governance election for ADC for Hills and Panchayats in valley. This seminar provides strength to youth to introspect personal values of late Bob Khathing , the most eminent ,military officer administrator a Karamyogi who worked for peace by personal example Assam Rifles have endeavoured to remind people of Ukhrul not to allow lapse his efforts in current melee when people are divided, hence this Seminar and Memorial Football match. He acted as nerve for the Assam Rifles to prog
ress and move with him into interiors. This seminar is Clarian call to remind people of Ukhrul and Manipur in particular to follow his footsteps for constructive peace through development, Hill valley unity and mutual co-operation.
Conclusion Analysis of problem reveals that violence breeds violence. No society has ever progressed through violence. It will only lead the society to relapse into anarchy and disarray. Collective efforts of society and Govt agencies is an obligation which needs to be accomplished for a secure and brighter future of generation next. This type of seminar is necessary to make new generation give inward look to what some noble personalities like late Maj Bob Khathing and others have laid foundations for peoples unity of understanding.